The VR Church

Will virtual reality church replace regular churchgoing?
21 June 2019
Presented by Chris Berrow, Leigh Milner
Production by Chris Berrow, Leigh Milner.


A gamer wearing a virtual reality headset.


We hear from the lead pastor of the world’s first VR Church. Also we’ll have the latest announcements from E3. Leigh tries to keep an old-school Tamagotchi alive for more than a day in “Retro Revival”, before new-style Tamagotchis are released next month. As for new releases - we review Dauntless and DayZ. Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner celebrate the 6 month "anniversary" of the show!

In this episode

A ps4 controller

05:08 - E3 roundup

All the latest breaking announcements from the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2019.

E3 roundup
Alex Rhodes

Alex Rhodes takes us through the announcements from this year's E3...

Alex - Let's start with one of the biggest announcements Keanu Reeves of the matrix and all those Internet means fame is starring in a computer game as Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077.

Voiceover - Initiating comeback mode. Go destination. Let's. Talking about right in and hour we're reds oh we're going to the major leagues. If you. Have a city to burn.

Alex - It's similar in concept to dance acts but with more Keanu. So what's not to like. It's being released by the same developers as the hugely popular which are three come to PS4, Xbox and PC in April next year.

Gears of War 5 is coming soon, it's been announced for September 10th and it wouldn't be a Gears game without a few new modes... Hord anyone?. Two new modes have been announced. One called Escape and a competitive mode called Arcade.

Voiceover - All is lost. Everything except the need for revenge. This might look like a surrender. But it's not. It's a base.

Alex - There's also an upcoming crossover download pack with Terminator: Dark Fate, and a Gears film set in an alternate reality. The cogs will return but only if you have an Xbox or PC with Windows 10.

And what's next for Xbox? Well their new console Project Scarlett is coming soon. It's more powerful and for all you Master Chief fans it features Halo Infinite as a launch title.

Voiceover - I hope you're ready. Saw. Die. Yeah. Welcome back cheif.

Alex - It'll have split screen multiplayer too so couch coop enthusiasts can rejoice. Halo Infinite is set for release during the holiday season of 2020.

And square Enix announce something the world's been waiting for a big budget Avengers video game. The slightly late title could bring to life some of the most beloved characters in cinema. Marvel's Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, the Incredible Hulk, and Thor.

Voiceover - They say never meet your heroes. I did, and it was awesome. Hello San Francisco.

Alex - There was only one problem The Video Game avatars looked nothing like the characters we've come to know and love over the last decade. And they didn't sound like them either. They were in fact completely different.

A gamer wearing a virtual reality headset.

08:54 - VR Church

Would you attend a virtual reality church service?

VR Church
DJ Soto, Lead Pastor of VR Church

Virtual Reality Gaming… have you tried it? You wear a set over your eyes, and gloves, and you’re transported to a 3D world - if you look up in real life, you look up in the game. It hasn’t taken off as much as people expected, but one thing that has just started developing is the world’s first Virtual Reality church.

DJ Soto is the lead pastor for VR Church… he told Chris Berrow how it came about.

DJ - My wife and I were pastors at a church in Pennsylvania in the States and we left that to go start something new and we didn't know what new meant we thought them at plant physical churches. So we set to do that at the same time. VR came out at the consumer level in 2016 and we've never seen that before in history. We got VR we were doing the movies the video games and you know our families about much gamers like Fortnight and Overwatch and when when VR came out we started playing around with it and then this new thing that I've never seen before came out called Social VR and Social VR at the nuts and bolts of that is like you know the movie that just came out Ready Player 1 or Inception or the Matrix these virtual worlds where avatars walk around and exist in these immersive settings. And so when I experienced that I thought Oh it'd be fun to try having a church experience here a spiritual experience that people could come to. So what started out as an experiment evolved into! this church community. We have multiple church experiences on Sunday and several Bible studies throughout the week all in all in virtual reality to the sorts of people who are coming along to VR church in your experience. What I love about virtually church is that the people that come that would not have been able to experience church and there is just a surprisingly large amount of people so for example people who are homebound for a condition or a disease some you know it might not be a physical ailment or a sickness it might be like emotional or mental they have severe social anxiety and just the idea of walking into a church in a building and sitting down that's a very intimidating prospect for them and then you have people that may have been kicked out of a church. I had a friend who was a recovering drug addict. He spent many years as a heroin addict and came out of that and was trying to get connected to a church just right out of a halfway house and they wouldn't let him co! me in because you know he looked disheveled and he looked like a recovering drug user. But he just wanted to go get connected with the spiritual community and essentially he was kicked out and there's story after story of people who can't get to church or maybe who've tried to get to church and for whatever reason they weren't allowed to be a part of that community. And so what if your church allows people to do is it provides another avenue for them in terms of the actual VR game and the environments that you rings.

Chris - I know it's one of those social games that really does no kind of game to play you're just kind of hanging out basically but the environments themselves can you sort of set it up to be you know like a church environment. I know one of the videos I saw that you were part of I think a lot of people were like standing around in what looked like water. So I guess the environments that you have that you pick and choose them to be appropriate for what you're doing or do you just take it as it comes.

DJ - Our very first church building was very like normal that you would see with pews and a little stage and then it was kind of like a eureka moment where we did the light bulb came on and we realized wait a minute we're in the matrix where if you've seen the movie Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio and there's that moment where Leonardo and Ellen Page there walk in and she's building with her mind and there is like that label moment for us is like wait a minute we can build whatever we want. So when we first started it was just a natural extension of what we knew from the physical world which looked like a regular church building with like Windows and pews and then it evolved into these fantastical worlds that we're creating every week and we'll create a new bill just depending on what is happening in the scripture. So for 2019 we went Chapter by chapter through the book of John and the Gospel of John. And each chapter was in a different location and a different setting sometimes! we were on a boat in the sea of Galilee and we were at your church. Actually everyone was on the boat as we were experiencing that or maybe we were in the temple in Jerusalem. So are we have a team called World builders and one of the leaders whose name is Wilco I affectionately call him the architect based off the inception movie. And yeah as a matter of fact this morning I sent him the build for the following Sunday. So every morning Monday morning he's expecting a list of things to be built for the scripture that we're experiencing.

Chris - I want to ask about if there's a kind of line that you have to draw because the one thing about VR obviously is that it's virtual reality and that you don't see people face to face. Do you have to kind of be careful about who you invite into the group because you know people with bad intentions could you sort of come along for a day and start to cause a problem or is of you obviously want to make sure it's a real positive experience.

DJ - Well one, we're not too fazed by it. We're just kind. It's kind of normal for us. So maybe in the physical world if someone came in and started screaming at the preacher that'd be like a like a well. Did you did you hear what happened at church day. But in virtual reality it's kind of normal. We just kind of roll with it and sometimes the trolls so to speak they calm down and they see that you know we're just kind of normal people and you know we say hello and sometimes we have to kick people. But that's like a last resort thing we try to give people a chance. But but that's foreign for you between because most of the time people are just interacting very normally and courteously with love and respect and actually what we found is that people there's a deep sense of authenticity. So what I mean by that is I've gotten some criticism from from pastor friends or from religious leaders saying hey you know your people are going to be avatars are gonna be fake they're gonna change ! who they are. And I said actually it's the opposite. We've experienced the complete opposite where with that Avatar there's a sense of anonymity. And with that anonymity comes deep authenticity. So we're like get into the heart of who we are. It's spirit of spirit. It's person to person it's not you know people don't have to wonder what other people think about their looks or you know their weight or their race or you know whatever. It's just the pure spirit the spirit communication.

Crosshairs aiming at an eye

15:50 - Poaching games

How do big companies find the next big thing?

Poaching games
Julia Kenny, Business Development Associate at Jagex

There’s a growing industry in poaching up and coming games! Big companies are always looking for the next big thing… the next Fortnite… the next World of Warcraft, and there are hundreds of independent developers making new games all the time. Julia Kenny is a business development associate from Jagex, they develop the Runescape Games… she told Chris Berrow how it works...

Julia - If you think about it like a record label trying to find really talented artists to sign we're looking for developers that have the same vision as we do when it comes to making deeply engaging social multiplayer games and we want to partner up with them for like a long term relationship where we give them money to start with and we give them the support from our expertise of 18 years of running green scape and in exchange we get a cut of the of the revenue as the game starts to be successful.

Chris - Do you have to have any kind of track records to get some kind of funding from Jagex because obviously you know it helps if you can trust the fact that somebody would give you money kind of knows vaguely what they're doing.

Julia - Yeah I think because we are looking for such a long term partnership which I have called several times in conversations to developers a marriage. So just going to keep it going you know feet first. We definitely need to understand that you know that the plan going forward is commercially sound and that there is experience when you're making a game of of you know the scale that is multiplayer and sometimes with you know hundreds and hundreds of players in the same world. That takes a lot of time to develop and sometimes quite a large budget.

Chris - Obviously when you're going around looking for you know new productions of games in a new companies even that are forming and your kind of thinking right going to help you out. Do you ever come up against other companies who are doing similar things to you is there ever like a bidding war against what could potentially be the next Minecraft do you both sort of find yourself going. I want to make sure that we get hold of this game kind of thing.

Julia - There is a lot more collaboration in the games industry across companies than maybe one would think in the sense that if there is a game that is definitely just not a portfolio fit for us let's say it's a really good single play a game that is narrative based then you know we will we will pass it on to other contacts in our network that are interested and vice versa. And then I think the other side of that is sometimes there can be a lot of interest around the single title. But the way that works usually is that we never really find out from from competitors or you know from people who are closer to what we're targeting. It will just be developers saying like “oh we've had interest from this person that person and that person” and to be honest that makes me quite happy when they say that it does. It does create more of a sense of urgency for us for sure but it makes me quite you know I'm already proud of them in the sense that you know it's hard to to quote make it so when one they've had all this interest in a way it's the emotional responsibility is slightly less.

Chris - Is it something that you would accept submissions over or is it very much that you need to be excited by something and then approach that project itself like let's say you know you get 100 e-mails and says “oh why don't you look at my game” I'm imagining that you know you don't have the resources to do that, let alone the time.

Julia - I mean right now we are doing that. I think you know we are trying to get the word out because there are so many different markets and networks that you know I feel like they can never really be enough people who hear about our new Jagex partners publishing program. So we have we do have like on our website we have a partners mailbox. So it's just partners at Jagex dot com. So we accept submissions in that way.

A playstation controller

19:48 - Review - Dauntless

Can Phoenix Lab's new release compete with Fortnite?

Review - Dauntless

Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner review Dauntless on PS4. 


Chris - So it is a bit like Fortnight. It was very cartoony. You immediately lost patience with this game but that was boring. There was one cut scene in the whole game.

Leigh - Look right. It took too long to kill the monsters. My character didn't look great.

Chris - Yeah that sort of development of your character at the very beginning you can choose the nose, the face...

Leigh - I want cool outfits. I want great hair. The best thing it had paint all over a face loved that. The thing is it kind of loses focus quite quickly and once you've killed one boss not to give too much away really there's not much left today.

Chris - You have basically done it all is a bit like Monster Hunter. I was really confused at the beginning of this game because it's worth saying it's free to play so you'd have to buy it like that but you basically get faced with a massive boss straight away you hack and slash it to death. Okay what's next. You land in the main base and then they send you off on another mission. Yeah. Then you hack and slash the next being out and that is it to death and then you come back and then they send you on another mission and it's the same.

Leigh - And what I don't like is that you have to defeat the boss with three other players. So it's not your own journey. You're constantly having to play with other players which are not keen.

Chris - So four player co-op online only if you play a mission and you're unlucky enough that there's any one other person playing with you you've only got two people hacking and slashing and a big boss. And it takes absolutely forever. Twenty five minutes it can take two to be a boss. There's no. It's for me. There's no skill involved. Yeah you just hammer the square button yeah or the triangle button. So I suppose that is variety is halfway there. And then the gear they are releasing new elements of the game each month. But it's boring. Yeah it is better on P.C. there's a lot of lag playing this game as well you would shuddering chittering around the whole place it wasn't good it was it was fun but it was like a really basic game and they want it to compete with fortnight which is one of the most popular games right now. The other thing that's worth saying is that I read a real interesting analysis about this game and they basically think about it. There's these really innocent creatures living in a world, and you turn up with three of your mates and kill them to death for absolutely no reason apart from the fact that they have scales that you want to steal their scales you want to steal their horn!

Leigh - how awful.

Chris - So you turn up on this world and just kill everything and then go.

Leigh - Didn't really think of it like that. So now that you told me I feel a bit bad.

Chris - You only killed one! I killed about 30. I'm so sorry. All those innocent creatures. Yeah. So anyway for me it was a 4 out of 10. What about you.

Leigh - Well I'll give it a 1.

Chris - Very harsh.

A playstation controller

23:23 - Review - DayZ

Finally released on PS4 is DayZ worth the wait?

Review - DayZ

Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner review DayZ.

Chris - This is a game I've been waiting I would say probably two years for, finally released on PlayStation 4 It's DayZ. Or Day Zed if your British! Zombie survival and you don't get any resources or anything like that.

Voiceover - I remember a time before all of this there was life no press freedom. For disease spread quickly. And only a few were. Lost. In desperately fighting for survival.

Chris - So I played this game for about five hours and I don't know how to do anything. I mean genuinely I turned. I started the game. It's a zombie survival horror game right. You think I care what you know straightaway you come to life near the coast and you think I'm gonna run to the nearest thing and get loads of resources. I started off in the pitch black you can't see anything. There's no tutorial for the game so you're supposed to just work out how to make fire. I think this is the worst game I've ever played.

I'm giving this game a minus 10.

Leigh - You can't give it minus 10.

Chris - I can't give it the minuse 10 because it because not only was it rubbish it cost 40 pounds and it actually angered me.

Leigh - It cost us 40 pounds. You've only played it once.

Chris - I know I played it three times. Igenuinely want my money back. I'm going to put an email in and see because there's no instructions yet.

Leigh - Are you sure you haven't missed anything.

Chris - I looked up three YouTube videos on things you're supposed to do... after two hours... I managed to make a fire where you have to scrape the bark off a tree with a stone and then you have to hack down a bush with a stone and then cut the long stick into short sticks and then you have to.

Leigh - So it's like a poor man's tomb raider.

Chris - Yeah. And then you have to get a rag and put it round the short stick and then you have to get the other short stick and get the bark and then create a fire creation tool. Are you bored yet. I was bored and then you combine them together. Then you make a torch and then that lasts for about 30 seconds. Never ever buy DayZ. What a disappointment... what a huge letdown.


A group of retro game characters including Space Invaders

25:51 - Retro Revival - Tamagotchi

As classic Tamagotchis are rereleased, are they as good as we remember?

Retro Revival - Tamagotchi

Leigh Milner reviews a Tamagotchi with original programming, ahead of new releases next month. Can she keep it alive for 24 hours?

Leigh - It's arrived. It's arrived. Get it open.

Oh my God. It takes me back to school. For ages 8 and up. Yeah. They'll do me nicely in the original packaging Tamagotchi. Generation One did they do different generations must have done.

Okay let's get this bad boy opened now.

You can tell that I'm old because I now read instructions. When I was younger I just used to turn it on and press those buttons right.

Okay so the little tab here activation you must do three things wake up Tamagotchi character from its million light years sleep by removing the insulating sheet pull paper tap from side of body write carelessly this the I think that means it's alive a little egg has appeared Oh look at it so cute.

Okay I see the quite tiny just the size these spits inside of your palm and my little egg is just moving up and down.

How long is it gonna be like that for I'm going to go make some dinner see what happens.

So it's been five hours waiting for this thing to hatch. I mean how an eight year old gets through this. I have no idea. Slight psychological torture he go child have this to play with. Oh wait it doesn't work for five hours so just just sit there and watch this egg going up and down. I didn't have done something wrong but now I have to take it to work with me so I've only just realized in the canteen. That it won't hatch unless you set the time and apparently.

It hatches. Five minutes after you set the time. So let's see if I can capture this moment.

It's hatched.

I'm gonna call you Blob. No Mr Blob. Mr Blob. So let's have a look. The buttons here at the bottom. You press them. Selects different icons you've got Manderson duck weighing scales food light bulb and games case. So the blob is just. Go side to side up and down on the screen. So let's see if we can feed that meal or snack cake of a meal. There he goes. Looks like Pacman. If we play game with it that'll make it happy won't it. Oh. God I forgot how annoying.

That sound is. Okay. That makes you happy. I've no idea what's going on in this game. I was pressing buttons. I think you've got to guess. Which direction is going to go so I'm just in the em in the work canteen. Play them a Tamagotchi Okay so I win 3 versus 2. Okay so he's happy little sunshine I can comes up great night not again. Okay. Give it a rest now.

Ah he's done a poo. That's. Duck icon. Flush away. Yeah a happy sunshine icon.

Winning Oh you're never gonna guess what's just happened again. So literally the screen went blank everything went black I thought Oh my God you're gonna have to send it back to Amazon. No Mr. blob has evolved into pancake face literally. How is it how long has it been. What. An hour or so. He's evolved into pancake face so I just thought I'd let you know.

Okay so since we last spoke. Yeah. Things. Things. Things have got much worse. So approximately there was some time between 8:00 and 9:00 this morning. I must have slept in... I was doing a night shift and I left him asleep and you know I switched the lights off on the Tamagotchi… I saw little z's coming coming from the bottom of the screen and I must've forgot about him. So um Pancake Face is dead. I don’t think he lasted 24 hours. To be fair you know I thought he was asleep. I put him on silent.

I forgot about him. Little tombstone on the front so he didn't make it to one day. Rest peacefully Pancake Face.



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